ANTIDOTE TO MURDER - Felicity Young
ANTIDOTE TO MURDER is the second Dr Dody McCleland book from WA based author Felicity Young. If this is a series that you are yet to catch up with, then all I can say is get to it. Immediately.
Set in Edwardian London, McCleland is a qualified doctor, fighting a society that has some very confronting attitudes towards women, in particular. To remain working as a doctor, McCleland has to battle daily against mindless prejudice and power games. To simply survive many more women are fighting a similar battle. Particularly any poor woman who is unlucky enough to be single, poor (or both) and pregnant. In a world where contraceptives are expensive and frowned upon, the attitude of people to young women in very difficult circumstances is portrayed starkly by Young.
One of the great strengths of this series (THE DISSECTION OF MURDER is the first book) is the way that they illustrate the nature of the society in which Dody McCleland must find a way to live her life. There is a very realistic tussle between her desire to stay working as a doctor, and her attraction to Matthew Pike, and the inevitable loss of work and position that marriage imposed in those days. Alongside McCleland's professional life, her sister and friends continue their suffragette activities, and it is within the spectrum of the fight for overall rights, that the spectre of illegal abortion arises. Somehow the blaming of the deaths of young women, at the hands of a criminal abortionist, on the only female doctor within sight, seems inevitable.
In a delicate balancing act, the resolution of who actually killed those women and why, is part of a wider exploration, looking at the nature of women's lives in that time period. The balance maintained is done cleverly, subtly, it's a crime story undoubtedly, but along with that, it's a look at a way of life that should remain well behind us. Although there are days when I do wonder if that's going to always be the case. Perhaps the reading of history wrapped up in proper, good old storytelling should become mandatory - for both men and women, because this, most definitely, is not women's fiction. It's informative, it's interesting, and it's very very revealing. It's most definitely not a world I want to return to, and I'm really grateful that Young takes the time to write this series. It's well worth reading, even if you don't think you're a fan of historical crime fiction.
When an act of compassion misfires, autopsy surgeon Dr Dody McCleland must fight not only for her career, but also for her life.
The body of a scullery maid is discovered in her room. When it emerges that she had recently begged Dody to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, the coroner recommends Dody be tried for criminal abortion causing death. Meanwhile, the one man who might be able to help her, Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, is nowhere to be found. After another woman′s body is discovered bearing all the hallmarks of the same crime, Dody suspects that a rogue doctor is on the loose.
Amid the turbulence of Edwardian London with its mix of strikes, suffragettes, German spies, exotic dancers and an illicit drug trade, Dody must unmask the killer before more girls are butchered and her own life ends on the gallows.